Archive | March 2017

Giant Bookish Giveaway!


Lakewater Press was created one year ago by my friend Kate Foster. To celebrate Lakewater Press’ birthday they’re having a GIANT giveaway! It’s HUGE. Amazon gift cards, books, bookmarks swag! You can find out all the details here.


#PitchMadness Candy Land Edition…Game on!

Licorice Castle

Welcome to Team Licorice Castle! It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your team hosts have chosen seventy pitches for the agent round. To meet the slush readers and hosts go to this post here. And you can find out more about the participating agents on this post here.

For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches and you can find the rules and instructions of the game here.

I’m co-hosting with the amazing Jeyn Roberts! Check out her site and follow her, you’ll be happy you did.

Jeyn Roberts

Jeyn Roberts

Website | Twitter

Author of the Dark Inside trilogy, The Bodies We Wear and When They Fade. Vancouverite. Animal lover. Destroying words in a coffee shop near you.



Scroll down to view all 10 picks for my blog or click on the links to each post …

Middle Grade

SJ 1: MG Magical Realism (#OwnVoices) – Wok Magic

SJ2: MG Fantasy (#OwnVoices OCD) – The Deepest Lake

Young Adult

SJ3: YA Science Fiction – Submerge

SJ4: YA Psychological Thriller (#OwnVoices PoC) – Girl In Ruins

SJ5: YA Fantasy – The Merciful Crow

SJ6: YA Horror – Neffers

SJ7: YA Science Fiction – Rogue

New Adult/Adult

SJ8: Adult Paranormal Thriller – Specter of a Chance

SJ9: Adult Literary Historical – The City With Three Names

SJ10: Adult Gothic Science Fiction – L’Abatteur


Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see the other agents’ requests. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the agent round, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries.

We’ll reveal the agent requests on March 17 starting at 4:30 Eastern time. All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness, where we’ll tweet the results of the agent round.

Join us for the Twitter Pitch Party on March 23 from 8AM to 8PM Eastern time on the hashtag #PitMad. It’s open to everyone!

How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here.

A huge HUGE thank you to my team and to the wonderful agents!

Go to all the hosts’ blogs to read more winning pitches …

Team Ice Cream Sea –
Team Peanut Brittle House –
Team Licorice Castle –
Team Peppermint Forest –
Team Candy Castle –



This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 1 Comment

SJ 1: MG Magical Realism (#OwnVoices) – Wok Magic

Title: Wok Magic

Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Magical Realism (Own Voices)

Word Count: 30,000

Pitch: Song Li is destined to be a great chef. But he only wants to be a K-Pop star. When his family’s wok works magic on him, he discovers his true self.

First 250 words of manuscript:

I received a wok for my 10th birthday. I asked for singing lessons for the fifth time and a phone for the second time. I even suggested cash or some better fitting underwear. But no. I got a wok. And it was an old wok — greasy, stinky and black with decades of burnt soy sauce caked on. When I expectantly opened the gift, my response was… well, let’s just say, unexpected. “What the… huh!?”

Mom looked hurt. Dad glared.

“Song Li! What is it? You don’t like birthday present?”

“Well, it’s just that… I was kind of expecting… something else.”

Dad started getting red. “You want something else? You don’t want your future? That wok was given to me when I became 10. It was big honor! It meant I could cook magic with grandpa. I would start my training to be great chef.”

“Yeah, that’s great.” Not. No one was fooled. There’s nothing great about this.

Mom walked out with her head bowed in shame and sadness.

Dad spoke softly but firmly. “Our family has made good food for kings as well as people with no homes. This has been our sacred wok. See, no holes like other old woks. It holds secret flavors from our ancestors. And it only works for our family. If you do not cook, you will fail us all. No pressure.”

Somehow, somewhere, dad learned that if you add “no pressure” to any amount of pressure, it lessens the pressure. He learned wrong.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 6 Comments

SJ2: MG Fantasy (#OwnVoices OCD) – The Deepest Lake

Title: The Deepest Lake

Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Fantasy (Own Voices OCD)

Word Count: 50,000

Pitch: Ever since her dad’s accident, Pearl counts everything by twos to keep everyone safe. It works, she swears—at least until a freak storm sweeps a mind-reading girl with a death wish into her backyard.

First 250 words of manuscript:

When the storm hit last summer, the Girl was in her underwater house at the bottom of the lake, pacing the halls in her long white dress. She wasn’t dead, not yet. I hadn’t even met her. I was hiding in my bed from the thunder, and the rain was aiming for me, smacking my window so hard the glass shook, just like me.

“Dad? Dad?”

I called for him like I was still a little kid, like he could still climb the stairs and keep me safe. Like he wasn’t out cold from his pain pills most nights.

I should have known better. He never checked on me, not anymore. I checked on him.

So I forced myself out of bed, and I trudged down the stairs by twos, my hands over my ears. Like always, I skipped the odd steps, because they were odd, or because I was odd, or both.

Okay, both.

In the living room, Dad was sprawled out in his La-Z-Boy, sound asleep, like the sky wasn’t exploding. Like the world wasn’t out-of-control.

“Dad! Wake up!”

He didn’t move, not an inch, but at least he snored. At least he was breathing. In the dark, I couldn’t see the brace and screws along his leg. I imagined the storm could melt them away. I imagined I’d give anything for that. But I did not imagine the Girl was rising up out of the lake and into the air. Spinning toward us. Toward me.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 7 Comments

SJ3: YA Science Fiction – Submerge

Title: Submerge

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 82,000

Pitch: Seventeen-year-old programmer Ariela hacks a top-secret immigration database to escape her artistic underwater community where she doesn’t belong and pursue admission to her dream school on futuristic Iceland’s forbidden surface. THE LITTLE MERMAID meets CINDER.

First 250 words of manuscript:

I sing like a dying humpback whale.

Which is unfortunate because during talent exhibitions the musician skill set always performs after the voice. Since my graduating class has a billion singers, the musicians are stuck waiting to test until the late afternoon. Every other artistic medium cut their school day short and headed home. But not me.

I sit closest to the stage door of Ragnar Theater, my legs stretched long in front of me, crossed at the ankles to avoid anyone looking up my grey accordion skirt. The silky notes of saxophones caress my skin and the low bass lines of cello warm-ups melt into my blood, drowning out the steady whir of the oxygen filter.

The boy next to me—Atlas Bjarkisson—taps his warty fingers against the scuffed black floor, like he’s practicing piano. He leans over to me with a huff. “Can you stop with that? It’s distracting.”

I raise an eyebrow and glance to my laptop. While he’s been practicing for his piano exposition, something I probably should be doing, I’ve been typing on a different set of keys.

I offer a curt, “No,” and continue typing.

He says under his breath, “Stuck-up bilun,” and jams his fingers harder against the floor, as if to drown out my typing with his fake piano playing.

The bilun insult stings, even though I should be used to it by now. Calling me a failure is hardly original. I’ve already been held back a year and everyone knows it.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 3 Comments

SJ4: YA Psychological Thriller (#OwnVoices PoC) – Girl In Ruins

Title: Girl In Ruins

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Psychological Thriller (Own Voices PoC)

Word Count: 75,000

Pitch: Boy meets girl. Girl murders boy.

Accused of a murder she doesn’t remember committing, a seventeen-year-old ballerina’s freedom hinges on finding her boyfriend’s killer, before they find her.

Black Swan meets We Were Liars

First 250 words of manuscript:


Date: January 1, 2015, 2:47 a.m.

Dispatcher: 911, what’s your emergency?

Female Caller: I did it.

(Heavy Panting)

Dispatcher: You did what, ma’am?

Female Caller: He’s not breathing—I’m going to leave him here (muffled) The house is on fire.

Dispatcher: I’m going to need you to calm down and tell me your location.

Female Caller: It’s my friend’s beach house in Paradise Cove… the glass mansion. Off North Avenue.

Dispatcher: Are you out of the house, ma’am?

Female Caller: I’m in the driveway.

Dispatcher (off-call reference): One of the Paradise Cove homes is on fire! There may be a person trapped inside.

Dispatcher (to caller): Are you still there, ma’am?

Female Caller: Yes! Are you sending someone?

Dispatcher: Help is on the way. Can you tell me more about the person not breathing? Are they still in the house?

Female Caller: (Whispering) Please don’t let him die.

Dispatcher: I’m trying to assist you with the proper resources, but I have to know, prior to the fire—was the person trapped inside the house hurt? Is that why they’re not breathing?

Female Caller: (Hysterical Crying)

Dispatcher: We need to gather more information to find you. What is your name?

Female Caller: Tell him that I’m sorry and… I love him.

Line goes dead.


The Pantages Theater’s stage lights are harsh, like a plastic surgeon’s knife, slicing through my body’s every

imperfection, while I dance center stage. My body wasn’t born to dance.


SJ5: YA Fantasy – The Merciful Crow

Title: The Merciful Crow

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 89,000

Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Fie despises royalty for ignoring widespread violence against her caste of undertakers. Then a supremacist coup d’etat puts the pampered crown prince’s life in her hands – and ruthless killers on her family’s trail.

First 250 words of manuscript:

Pa was taking too long to cut the boys’ throats.

Near ten minutes had run dry since he’d vanished into the quarantine hut, and Fie had spent the last seven of them glaring at its gilded door and trying not to pick at a stray thread on her ragged black robe. Taking one minute meant the Sinner’s Plague had finished off the boys inside already. Taking three meant Pa had a merciful end to deliver.

Taking ten was taking too long. Ten meant something was fouled up. And from the whispers sweeping the tiles of the courtyard, their throngs of onlookers were catching on.

Fie gritted her teeth until the queasy pinch in her gut retreated. As the only caste that could survive handling plague bodies, the Merciful Crows were duty-bound to answer any summons. And as Pa’s chief-in-training, she didn’t have the luxury of a faint heart.

Pa knew what he was doing. These were no different from the hundreds of bodies they’d burned in her sixteen years. No matter that only a few dozen had ever been from the capitol. No matter that far fewer had been this high-caste.

No matter that Crows hadn’t been summoned here, to the royal palace, for nigh five hundred years.

But soldiers and aristocrats packed the walls of the quarantine court around them, and every glimmer of Hawk steel or Peacock silk said the plague mattered to the higher castes tonight.

Pa knew what he was doing, Fie told herself.

And Pa was taking too long.

SJ6: YA Horror – Neffers

Title: Neffers

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Word Count: 75,000

Pitch: Fifteen-year-old Delilah collects fresh corpses to access a magic fountain that can heal her younger sister. When the fountain’s beastly protectors demand her sister’s soul, a defiant Del desperately searches for alternatives to satiate them.

First 250 words of manuscript:

The toe tag on the decapitated body read: IF FOUND, CALL (512)555-5813, so Del pulled out her iPhone.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Del said, circling the decaying corpse. She maintained a perimeter outside the buzzing flies and fluid soaked ground but breathed easier knowing it wouldn’t answer her. “I’ve seen other dead people, you know.”

*Seen. Created. Collected. Same difference.*

The burning Texas sun played spotlight for the headless body starring center stage. Nothing else in the barren field warranted a second glance. Del spied a turkey vulture gliding in a copycat pattern around the body. She reached down, snatched a piece of gray limestone from the dirt, and launched her projectile at the hideous black bird.

“Get outta here, dumb bird! He’s mine!” Del’s temples bulged purple veins. The vulture settled into the field’s lone oak tree and voiced its displeasure, but, for now, Del owned her prize uncontested.

She sneered at the corpse. “He’d eat you if I let him, but you’re my entrance fee.” Del flipped her head toward the unstained wooden boards under the live oak. “And them.” Dead bodies were a one-way ticket to life in jail for most, not a bloody precursor to salvation.

Del chewed her last unbroken nail to a jagged nub before dialing. She figured most would be afraid to call, but most weren’t in her situation.

*What if no one answered?*

Del wondered if she should have dialed 911, but the cops would canvas the field. Talking her way out of one dead body seemed plausible, but not half-dozen.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 2 Comments

SJ7: YA Science Fiction – Rogue

Title: Rogue

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 80,000

Pitch: Unaware her world is virtual, seventeen-year-old Mei is programmed to help human players win. But when three deceitful players plan to destroy the game server that keeps her alive, she’s done playing by the rules.

First 250 words of manuscript:

They say only Heroes can leave the monastery. If that’s the case, they should’ve made the walls higher.

I dash up the stone, the soles of my boots making dust fly, and grab the ledge to peer over it. In this broad daylight, too many of my fellow students could spot my return.

The coast clear, I vault overtop and drop back inside. Hiding behind a weapons rack, I rub my daggers against my leather leggings, removing leftover wolves’ blood. I wish I could’ve stayed out in the wilderness longer and leveled even higher, but the Hero will be returning from her quest soon. Experience points won’t mean much if I’m not present for the guardian selection.

I remove my stats scroll from my belt and unroll the parchment.



Level: 5

Profession: Assassin

HP: 500/500

Mana: 200/200

Weapon: Novice Daggers (Damage: 1-3)

Attire: Novice Armor (Armor: 1)

Level five. My chest swells with pride. This morning, before the Hero arrived, I was like all the other students: a measly level one. By now, I’ve ridden around most of Newburos Island and discovered all manner of beasts. I didn’t pick fights with anything more than one level above me. Even experience points aren’t worth my life.


I gasp and clutch my scroll to my chest.

Instructor Stefan steps toward me, his robes casting a long shadow onto the stone floor. “What were you doing outside the gates?”

I pull my hood off and put the scroll away.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 5 Comments

SJ8: Adult Paranormal Thriller – Specter of a Chance

Title: Specter of a Chance

Category: Adult

Genre: Paranormal Thriller

Word Count: 87,000

Pitch: Thief-for-hire Layne Knowles uses a quid-pro-quo system with her ghostly accomplices. When she accidently steals CIA secrets, she becomes embroiled in a deadly web of federal agents, poltergeists, and gangsters.

Odd Thomas dabbles in crime.

First 250 words of manuscript:

I hated burglarizing an occupied house, even with ghostly help. It was crazy and dangerous, but unavoidable tonight. After casing the place for weeks, I learned that the family or security guards were always around. So here I sat in the study of a local electronics mogul, wrestling trade secrets from his computer. The laptop created the only illumination in the room while the faint murmuring from a television floated up from the first floor.

The screen’s view changed again, displaying multi-level directories with coded names. I froze in mid-keystroke, holding my breath as loud voices rose up through the stairway. The client wanted the theft of the computer chip designs to go unnoticed. A great idea, but escaping unharmed trumped any of his wishes. After a few moments, the sounds faded away, leaving only the tick of the antique clock marching on toward eleven.

The directory name of DEVEL2017 finally popped up. I checked my watch and cursed. Eight minutes runs five minutes too long in any burglary. Time to grab the files and flee.

“Got you.” The soft words slipped out as I thought about the forty-thousand-dollar payday. The money would put me one step closer to a tropical island life where no one thought I was insane for talking to “invisible friends.” My smile disappeared when white lines fluttered across the screen.

“Charles, back off. You’re screwing up the computer.” I whispered to the air.

His tenor voice came through the digital recorder. “Layne, I’m hungry.”

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 1 Comment